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Voicepiece - A new era for the NHS

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Nurses, midwives and health visitors will play a key role in upholding the new NHS strategy, says CNO Christine Beasley

This month, the Secretary of State for Health announced “NHS 2010-2015: from good to great. preventative, people-centred, productive, which sets out the five-year plan for the NHS.

The plan incorporates the rights contained in the NHS Constitution - now enshrined in law - for staff, patients and the public. Nurses, midwives and health visitors will continue to play a key role in upholding these entitlements, particularly as they are often the first point of contact for people who access health and well-being services.

While the majority of entitlements will be familiar, there are those that may pose new challenges and opportunities for the profession, such as the proposal for an NHS.

Health Check every five years for people aged between 40 and 74. I would encourage you to familiarise yourself with these rights, including your own organisation’s approach to embodying the NHS Constitution.

NHS 2010-2015 also brings into focus the idea of providing technically advanced intervention care and supporting health, well-being and families. Influencing and shaping healthy behaviours are skills and competencies not just
in the domain of health visitors; increasingly, they will also need to be developed by all of the profession.

The delivery of screening, advice and management of services - such as those contained within the alcohol impact changes - will make a difference to those affected by drinking and have the potential to deliver cost savings.

In previous bulletins, I have spoken about the need to address the variations in people’s experiences of care settings. The continued development of high quality services and treating patients well will be supported by a new objective for reducing MRSA and the continuing work to reduce C. difficile rates. The intention is to both challenge pockets of poor performance and reduce variation across the NHS in England. And these are areas of practice where nurses, midwives and health visitors have already made a significant contribution.

A specific aspect of safety where the profession now needs to lead is the prevention and avoidance of pressure ulcers. The personal cost to those people who develop avoidable pressure ulcers is immeasurable and it is estimated that an average district general hospital spends between £600,000 and £3 million on treatments.

Work will also continue to transform services for patients with complex long-term conditions who can benefit from
a more personal approach to nursing. With all interactions, there is also a need to improve patient satisfaction, and the use of measurement tools will be developed.

In the future, payments to providers will also be linked to patient experience and satisfaction.

The Operating Framework for 2010-11 will be used to set the direction of travel for NHS 2010-2015 and I do not underestimate the challenges ahead. However, during my visits to local services, I have met many nurses, midwives and health visitors and I am confident of your ability to lead and support the changes and innovations required.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for all you do for individuals and communities.



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